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According to wikipedia, progerin is activated in senescent cells. The protein itself is known to be the cause of a rare affliction 'progeria' - a disease marked by accelerated aging of the body. This disease is not accompanied by neurodegeneration.

  • Is progerin the key factor in the aging process?
  • If yes, could inhibition of progerin formation control the rate at which a body ages?
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Progeria (and related) syndromes are essentially a collection of 'accelerated aging' phenotypes caused by single mutations; Progerin is a shortened version of the protein Lamin A, and is therefore not found in individuals without a loss-of-function mutation in the LMNA gene (the wiki page you reference). As far as we are aware these genes do not 'cause' aging in individuals without the mutations.

LMNA is a normal component of the nuclear lamina (a structure inherent to the nucleus). This review discusses the various diseases associated with mutations in this gene, some of which present 'accelerated aging' phenotypes. However, as far as I know, there is limited evidence to suggest that LMNA, or indeed any Lamina associated protein, is involved in 'normal aging'. A recent GWAS meta-analysis found a variant in LMNA that is associated with longevity in humans, however the association is relatively weak (OR=1.18, P=7(x10)-4), so even if this is a true association, it seems that (as usual in aging research) there are many other factors to consider, and it is not a single gene that is doing the aging.

So to stress the point: progerin has no function in 'normal' human aging - it is a defective protein caused by a germline (or novel) mutation in the LMNA gene. Accelerated aging is the symptom of this genetic disorder, and is not completely analogous to normal aging (as you point out, there is no cognitive decline that is associated with normal human aging).

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Could the LMNA be a catalyst, or a key element in the pathway though? –  Everyone Jun 25 '12 at 16:24
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A catalyst to what, and what pathway? If you mean aging, there is no 'aging pathway' –  Luke Jun 25 '12 at 17:01
    
Also note that although the symptoms of progeria resemble aging it is not true that aging results in the same cellular problems (for a start, progerin is not physiologically produced in old age) –  nico Jun 26 '12 at 9:28
    
@nico thanks - clarified in my post. –  Luke Jun 26 '12 at 15:12

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